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The revelation comes from top-secret Foreign Office files released after a Freedom of Information application.

Papers obtained by a biographer of Burgess show the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to prosecute Floyd.

Chillingly, he seemed to treat such traitorous work as a joke.

He said: ‘I rather enjoyed the cloak-and-dagger atmosphere which will be familiar to anyone who has read the spy stories of the Cold War.’His contacts with the Kremlin dated back to 1964 and it wasn’t until 1994 that he was exposed — to the horror of the paper’s then editor, the genuinely incorruptible Peter Preston.

The CIA and the State Department declared that they were ‘highly disturbed’ the Foreign Office could employ such men.‘They pointed out that in the State Department, repeated drunkenness, recurrent nervous breakdowns, sexual deviations and other human frailties are considered security hazards, and persons showing any one or more of them are dismissed summarily,’ the British Embassy sheepishly reported.

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He was also strongly suspected of having done the same while working in our embassies in Belgrade and Prague.

He had two criminal convictions and had been in prison.

Even so, he was appointed to sensitive posts by the Foreign Office.

He resigned from the Left-wing paper in 1994 after being revealed as an ‘agent of influence’, a tag he denied, having been recruited by the KGB. He had joined the paper as a leader writer and held numerous other influential positions such as features editor and foreign news editor.

Winchester and Oxford-educated Gott admitted meeting the KGB and accepting what he called ‘red gold’.

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